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Conspiracy Theory #3: Patriarch Meletios IV of Constantinople was a Mason
01-21-2015, 07:47 AM (This post was last modified: 01-22-2015 06:12 AM by Rako.)
Post: #1
Photo Conspiracy Theory #3: Patriarch Meletios IV of Constantinople was a Mason
When I first came here to the E.Y. forum, E.Y. said that he hoped I coud give an Orthodox Christian view on some topics. So here I will discuss one of the most potentially controversial modern issues, but one that is not typically discussed, in Orthodoxy, that of Patriarch Meletius, who for three years occupied the highes position in the Orthodox world.

The background is that the
Greek revolutionaries for independence from the repressive Turkish rulers included Masons, and their fight is to the credit of those Masons. After Greece attained independence, they had more political power and the election of Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos in the early 1920's and the expulsion of the Greek king brought Patriarch Meletios to become Greece's bishop.

Meletios later served as Patriarch of Constantinople, the highest position in the Eastern Orthodox world, in 1921-1923. He spent time in Alexandria, Jerusalem, Athens, the US, and Constantinople, and was several times elected to major posts and also deposed from them due to controversies, after which he went to a different country.

Officially, the Freemasons consider him to be one, as:
Quote:On the official website of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Greece (http://www.grandlodge.gr/Famous_gr_home.html) is a listing of famous known Masons from 1800-1950. They name...: Ecumenical Patriarchs Meletios II
http://www.trueorthodoxy.org/non_christi...ions.shtml

For their part, the Orthodox Church could not unanimously recognize him as one, because generally that would be viewed as a contradiction. However, some Orthodox have recognized him as one, since:
Quote:the Abbot of the Monastery of Philotheou on Mt. Athos, Archimandrite Ephraim, claims Meletios was one. http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/ephraim_roca.aspx

The background to his initiation
is discussed in the 1967 Masonic Bulletin in an article by Alexander Zervoudakis. He writes that:
Quote:the Masons, members of the Greek Political Association of Constantinople, with which Meletios was consulting at the time about the burning question of the Arab-speaking Orthodox (1908), acted in precisely such a way that the intrepid and inquisitive spirit of Meletios—who had hitherto heard much about the Masons in Cyprus and elsewhere—prompted him to ask his colleagues, whom he respected, to give him information about Freemasonry, and, after he had listened to them, to decide, with his well-known impetuosity and resolve, to follow the example of many English and other foreign bishops and seek to learn about, and be initiated into, the mysteries hidden within Freemasonry.

These Masons then brought him to the ‘Harmony’ Lodge, No. 44, in Constantinople, which had gathered in its ranks the cream of Greek society in that city—all the best that the Greek population in Constantinople had at its disposal in terms of literature, science, and power—and which, in one way or another, by virtue of its members, who belonged to every social organization, ethnic or otherwise, exerted a substantial influence on Greek life. They asked the then-Grand Master of Greece for permission to initiate Meletios, and when this was granted, he received the light of Freemasonry, at the beginning of 1909. He remained in Constantinople for one more year and fervently studied Masonic teaching, which allowed him to give all of his deeds and words a truly Masonic stamp, as we saw in our brief account of his activity. In every instance, righteousness and the true Masonic virtues, one might say, naturally and spontaneously guided him in what he should say and how he should act. A clear sign of the influence that Freemasonry has on the formation of a man’s character is when he is spiritually prepared to accept its teachings, when, that is, he is a born Mason—as Meletios was.

After his initiation, Brother Meletius spread Masonic activity everywhere he went during the entire gamut of his tumultuous life."
http://www.hsir.org/Theology_en/E3a4013M...axakis.pdf
Some things that stand out in the letter are its portrayal of Masonry as having hidden mysteries, bringing together leaders in science and literature, having special virtues, and being "born" as a Mason, an expression that would refer to their concept of initiation and taken from being born again in Christian baptism.

For another Orthodox writer, these parts of the article were noteworthy:
Quote:"I greeted him like a Mason greets another Mason," wrote Zervuldakis; Metaxakis smiled and said, "I see that you understand me." From Zervuldakis' monograph we know that Meletius first met with Masons in Constantinople in 1906. Full cooperation between Meletius and the Greek Masons in Constantinople began in 1908.

Zervuldakis emphasizes, "I remember the joy and pride expressed by all the brotherhood over Meletius' initiation when he was elected into our lodge."
http://web.archive.org/web/2009012603373...tii_1.aspx

Quote:In the book of Alexander Zervoudakis entitled “Famous Freemasons” he writes that in the year 1909 when Metaxakis and two other clergymen were visiting Cyprus, (One of these clergymen was metropolitan Basil of Anchialos, an official representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate) all three of them were initiated into the Masonic Lodge.
“Famous Freemasons,” by Alexander I. Zervoudakis, in the official publication Masonic Bulletin, Number 71, January – February, 1967.
http://orthopraxy.com/2008/opinions/free...forbidden/

As a church leader, Meletios was involved in several controversies. One was that he was especially involved in Ecumenism. Personally, I find this part of his work admirable, and forms of Ecumenism are encouraged in the church. However it must be remembered that the Orthodox Church keeps itself separate from other Churches, particularly in the area of communion. Strong ecumenism was even more controversial in the 1920's, while in contrast, freemasonry occasionally presents itself as claiming that other religions as having relatively equal validity to each other.

[Image: meletios_lang.jpg]
In the photo, [the former] Patriarch Meletios of Alexandria meets with the Anglican Archbishop Cosmo Gordon Lang of Canterbury, 8 July 1930. Note the double headed eagle. This is not wrong for him to wear, but it is very unusual that a church leader would do so. Generally they wear a cross, an ikon (religious picture), or both. The double headed eagle is a legitimate symbol, sometimes used in Orthodoxy, because it was the symbol of the Byzantine Empire, the state that most strongly fostered Greek Orthodoxy. The state and the church were particularly close.

Nonetheless, a necklace with the eagle would generally be worn along with a cross or an icon too. It's also notable that the double headed phoenix is used in Masonry, and that supposedly this often became transformed into a double headed eagle in Masonry.

One writer has also claimed that he called for an end to missionary work:
Quote:the official Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, No 2 [has] full details of his masonic career. Other particulars of his masonry can be found in the masonic journal Pythagore-Equerre, Vol. 4, Part 7, 1935, where his obituary was published. It seems that he was the first Orthodox bishop in history to call for an end to missionary work by the Orthodox Church (Point 10 of his encyclical of 1920).
http://www.orthodoxengland.org.uk/ocet22.htm
Missionary work, that is, evangelism, is important in Orthodoxy for spreading the faith. However, isn't it true that in Mason institutions, one's own religion is not supposed to be promoted to others?

A third controversy
was that he changed the "Old" calendar for the "New" one used in modern secular society and in western (nonOrthodox) churches. The change could create confusion because the days of saints and some holidays like Christmas are moved as a result. Personally, I think that the New Calendar is better because it's more astronomically correct. But the new calendar was forcefully imposed on the local priests and parishes, so that it made a serious division, and some parishes broke away from the main Greek church to create smaller sects.
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01-21-2015, 08:53 AM (This post was last modified: 01-21-2015 09:08 AM by Rako.)
Post: #2
RE: Conspiracy Theory #3: Patriarch Meletios IV of Constantinople was a Mason
A fourth controversy about Patriarch Meletios IV was his decision to place the Greek churches in America under his control. At first, he chose for the Greek churches in America to be under his bishopric in Greece. That way he, as bishop of Athens, would oversee the churches in America as their hierarch. However he was later pushed out of his position in Greece, and then after a few years he took up an even higher position as Constantinople's Patriarch.

Next, as Patriarch of Constantinople, he decided that America's parishes should be under his rule in Constantinople, so he transferred the parishes to his control there. His justification for the parishes being under Constantinople was that there was a very old rule that "barbarian lands" would be under Constantinople.

There are several issues within this controversy. First, because his decision about which hierarch (leader) should control America happened to change with his own shift between those offices, it suggests that his motivation for the decision was his own personal power.
Secondly, the decision created a huge split among Orthodox in America that persists to this day. Originally, Orthodox churches were a single institution under the Patriarch in Moscow because of the Orthodox settlements in Alaska. Granted, I think it's questionable how often Greek Americans would have seen Moscow as their Patriarch, but nonetheless some non-Russians in America did. After Meletios' decision though, Orthodox Churches here became solidly divided along ethnic lines. That's a problem, because the Orthodox religion teaches that all the parishes in a single region must be united as one diocese (bishopric), not divided into overlapping ones. That would be like having two US presidents or two governors in a state.

Meletios brought an interesting claim: that America was a "barbarian land", and he used the old rule on barbarian lands to claim control over all lands that weren't under other Patriarchs. I think the question demands greater discussion. First, America is not "barbarian" in the ancient Roman sense. It is a "Christian" society based loosely on the Roman legal structure, has running water, a Roman alphabet. At least Americans and Greeks would not call their society "barbarian" in the ancient sense.
But second, Meletios might mean something else: He could be claiming that since America is not "Orthodox", that makes it barbarian. Or he might be claiming that since it was barbarian in ancient times when the rule was made, the rule designated it as being part of Constantinople's church. However, if America being non-Orthodox makes it barbarian, then at the least Alaska should be under Moscow, because it was for a long time Orthodox. So then why is Constantinople running its own parishes in Alaska nowadays?

Out of his controversial decisions, I think that this was by far the worst. I like his ecumenism and I think that the New Calendar is good. I'm skeptical if he was anti-missionary, and in any case he didn't destroy the church's efforts on it. But the division between "Greek" and "Russian" churches into separate institutions is the major division in Orthodoxy in America. It would be better for Christians to stay united with each other. For their part, his decision is popular among many Greeks of course, because, being Greeks, they find it more attractive to be under the "Greek" church. The easy way to fix this big division is for the Greeks to join the Orthodox Church in America and have an "American" church.

Due to controversies in the church and political pressure, Patriarch Meletios was pushed out in 1923. In 1929, Metropolitan Irenaeus, a leader in the Greek church, wrote a Memorandum that brought up Meletios' relationship with "secret societies", complaining:
Quote:Patriarch Meletios Metaxakis, adopt[ed] ideas that are preached sporadically, according to the whim of each individual, in periodicals and the daily press and are given wide diffusion, opportunely and inopportunely, satisfying the sinful wishes and self serving desires of heterodox churches and secret societies, to which, blinded by vainglory and sacrificing everything for the enhancement of his own ego, he owed his successive accession to the highest positions in the local Orthodox Churches, convened a Pan-Orthodox Congress—unusual nomenclature in ecclesiastical parlance—which was, in truth, an anti-Orthodox one, in May of 1923 in Constantinople, at which he replaced the ecclesiastical Julian Calendar with the Gregorian, in spite of every prohibition relating to this; and he decided to replace the eternal Paschalion, which was drawn up for the Orthodox Church by a decision of the First Œcumenical Synod, entrusting the creation of an astronomically more perfect one to
the observatories of Bucharest, Belgrade, and Athens; he allowed Priests to cut their hair and to replace their venerable clerical attire with that of Anglican pastors; in violation of the Canons, he introduced the marriage [after ordination—Trans.] and second marriage of clergymen; and he entrusted the determination of the days of fasting and the manner of their observance to the judgment of the local Churches, thereby destroying the uniformity and order that have prevailed in the local autocephalous Orthodox Churches of the East.
http://www.hsir.org/Theology_en/E3a4013M...axakis.pdf
Met. Irenaus means that the term "Congress" is strange for an Orthodox gathering, because it sounds like a political term. That congress was in fact devoted to the issue of ecumenism, it was during this time that a formal campaign to remove Meletios occurred. The Memorandum also discusses calendar issues and the debate over allowing priests to get married after they become priests. I think that the main problem was not so much the substance of such decisions, but the unilateral and arbitrary way that he went about them. Orthodox people and the other churches were not on board with them, so why did he have to do them? I think that he just wanted the changes and so he created them based on his own desire.
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01-21-2015, 09:32 AM
Post: #3
RE: Conspiracy Theory #3: Patriarch Meletios IV of Constantinople was a Mason
EPILOGUE

Pat. Meletios later became Patriarch of Alexandria in Egypt. Zervuldakis writes:
Quote:the esteemed Brother Evangelos Asteris, a 33rd degree Mason, the Worshipful Master of the ‘Zeno’ and ‘Hermes’ Lodges in the jurisdiction of Egypt, related to me that Archimandrite Brother Nicanor Kanellopoulos, Worshipful Master of the ‘Beïcha’ Lodge,
told him that Patriarch Meletios of Alexandria was present with him at two or three functions of the ‘Alexander the Great’ Lodge, No. 35, in Alexandria, in 1930 or 1931. The same information was given to the Worshipful Master of the ‘Society of Friends’ Lodge, the esteemed Brother Panagiotis G. Kretikos, uncle of the ever-memorable Brother Emmanuel P. Ladikos, a 33rd degree Mason in Egypt,

One Orthodox writer says that Meletios died "in Zurich, Switzerland and is buried in Cairo, Egypt. At his hierarchal funeral, his Masonic apron is placed over his episcopal vestments by his brother Masons. His Masonic gloves and evergreen twig are placed in his coffin." (http://thattimehascome.blogspot.com/2009...-20th.html)
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01-21-2015, 02:35 PM
Post: #4
RE: Conspiracy Theory #3: Patriarch Meletios IV of Constantinople was a Mason
Damn that catchy tune,
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01-21-2015, 10:04 PM
Post: #5
RE: Conspiracy Theory #3: Patriarch Meletios IV of Constantinople was a Mason
great stuff. reading.

thanks for your contribution Rako.
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